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MadDog's Final Wrap Up Grade for Niners

It has been another extraordinary draft, and was a crazy ride along the way. In a very abbreviated review of who had the most draft selections in the 254 draft, it appears that OTC once again pinned the MadDog for the second straight year, and once again beat every single draft prognosticator in the business. Yours truly coming in second once again. OTC is the draft king. At some point, when I can reclaim some bit of time from the universe, I hope to do a complete review for my records.

Now, onto the Niners' draft review. Strap on the seatbelts, since it is not going to be pretty. By the way, draft grades at this point are arbitrary, since nobody knows how these kids will perform. So, as with any analyst, take this with a grain of salt.

First Round- Aldon Smith- C grade
Smith was the best OLB left on the board when the Niners selected. He does present a need for the team. However, the team intended on selecting a QB along the way, and missed on grabbing the best one in the draft, Blaine Gabbert. Instead, the team selected Colin Kaepernick, who may not be the best fit for the WCO.

As for Smith, he is a good straight ahead rush backer. At the same time, he is not an elite athlete, which is what you want from a guy this high on the board. Smith's shuttle numbers at the combine, which show change of direction skills, was amongst the worst for the DE class. He only pressed the bar 20 times, which is not horrible for a guy with a long wingspan, but still mediocre. Smith's long jump, which measures explosiveness, was average, and his cone time was poor.

So, while he posted good numbers at Missouri, and certainly has a big upside, the current Smith is not an elite Smith, and to me, too risky for the 7th overall. Can he be great? Maybe. But, once again, the team is not drafting in the 15th, or 20th, or 25th spot. This is the 7th overall. Just not good value.

Second Round- Colin Kaepernick- C grade
Don't get me wrong, I think Kaepernick has a chance in the NFL. He has a live arm, is very athletic for a QB, and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. The problem I have? The Niners traded up to get him, but only needed to go two more slots higher to draft the better QB, Andy Dalton, who everybody on this side of the planet knew would go to the Bengals at 35.

Kaepernick has a fairly elongated throwing motion, which is highly problematic in the WCO system, let alone any system in the NFL. The Niners will have to tighten that motion so that he can fit the ball into the window desired. I don't see Kaepernick being ready for the NFL for at least two years.

So, the Niners selected two guys with big upsides, if maximized, but guys who also have a high bust potential, in my estimation.

Third Round- Chris Culliver- C+ grade
This is not as horrific pick as many Niners' fans believe. Culliver appeared to be a reach for many, but I did project him to go in that 80th slot, and there had been some momentum for him as draft day closed in. The kid can run, posting one of the better forties at the combine. Now, can he play corner? Not sure. But, he's an upgrade over the current combination we have at safety right now, where he played for the bulk of his college career, and posted great numbers. Plus, he is a very good kickoff and punt returner (3rd in SEC history). So, he adds some special teams value.

Could be the Niners were targeting the player chosen just before their original third rounder (pick 76), guard John Moffitt of Wisconsin.

So, mini-review: The Niners selected a raw OLB prospect, a raw QB prospect, and a guy who presents good special teams value but may have switch back to safety.

Fourth Round- Kendall Hunter- A grade
Best pick of the draft for the Niners. The team needed a smaller, change of pace back and Hunter can play all three downs. Short, but able to squeeze through holes, has a good second level burst, and can pass protect, as seen in the Senior Bowl practices, where he pleased coaches and scouts. Just a solid, all around back, one that I graded the fourth best overall in this draft.

Fifth Round- Daniel Kilgore- D- grade
Kilgore was a terrific OL for Appalachian State, who showed some versatility at guard and tackle during his college days. It appears the team wants to transition him to center, and while that is a position of need, there were certainly better centers with experience at the position on the board. The kicker, the Niners traded up to get him. Bad, bad value.

Sixth Round- Ronald Johnson and Colin Jones- C- grades
Both players will struggle to make the roster in 2011, as Johnson will be competing for the 4th or 5th WR position, and may find it hard to supplant Williams and Zeigler. Jones, who I like as a player, will have to compete with a bunch of safeties, and maybe even draftee Chris Culliver. Johnson and Jones present good special teams value, as both are fast players. Johnson can return kickoffs, Jones could be a gunner. However, both non-special team positions are pretty well stocked, and I'm not sure I see much of an upgrade. In Johnson's case, the better pick was two selections later, with 3-4 DE David Carter of UCLA. Don't we need a fullback or nose tackle, or backup DE, or center with experience????

Seventh Round- Bruce Miller, Michael Person, Curtis Holcomb- F grades
If you haven't heard enough of me whining about taking college players and shifting them to a different position in the NFL, well I've got more bad news for you. Miller was an outstanding college defender who is slated to play fullback. That was news to everyone, including Miller. Person was a really good college OT being shifted to guard, and who knows with Holcomb....nose tackle. Maybe the team thinks it can throw another 140 pounds onto his 190 pound frame. Didn't we just try to convert another defender, wait for the last name....Miller... to fullback last year? Is it in the owner's guidelines that we convert a Miller every year from defense to offense? Color me confused.

Final grade- C-

In the end, it really doesn't matter what happens from the third through seventh rounds. This final grade, years down the road, will come down to Smith and Kaepernick, and the selections were simply too wildcard and risky for me.

[ Edited by MadDog49er on May 1, 2011 at 18:50:27 ]
i can't handle the truth
I too agree that this draft is far from a present-day upgrade. It's a draft that may pay off in a few years.. which is something our team has no room for. We need immediate impact players (Kendall Hunter may be one).


So, I think we could've made better picks, but Colin K is the same Josh Johnson mold that Harbaugh loves and is good with. It's that same QB style.

I like the Bruce Miller pick -- I think he is going to be Jim's new Owen Maricec. Or the attempt to.

The way this draft went smelled a lot like Jim Harbaugh. I don't know if he went with a mentality of "this is what worked at Stanford" but it seems like the same type of "recruiting." Either way I trust his judgement and hope it pays off in large dividends.

[ Edited by chico49erfan on May 1, 2011 at 18:58:28 ]
That's what happens when you pin yourself to your own prognostications. You inevitably get different results than the experts who actually made the picks and had the resources to study the players. I look forward to bumping this thread in two years with a big giant black crow, but you'll probably just revise history as usual.
Barrows did report Bruce Miller will get practice reps on D. Not like it matters much though. At the minimum, He will be a solid special teams player.
I trust Jim Harbaugh's evaluation so I have no problem passing on Gabbert and Dalton.

We need a pass-rusher really badly. I'm sorry but this draft was really lacking in pass rushers outside of the first round imo. I really don't see how the value was bad enough to warrant that low of a grade. I know that you love Gabbert but again, I have to trust Harbaugh with this.

I think you're being way too harsh on our later round draft picks.

I really think you're trying really hard to be different here.
the Niners brass is happy with the draft, so I am too--until (if) they prove their incompetence.

I think we all agree that the current coaching staff is the best we've had for awhile and that, though our GM is inexperienced at that particular position, there is a ton of football knowledge there. So I'll concede to their opinion for now, especially since grading drafts takes several years to be truly accurate.

That said, i think giving the Niners a harsh grade is fair (since grading a draft the day after is inherently "unfair"). This was an incredibly strange draft for a number of reasons, and we seemed to deviate from the accepted knowledge/rankings of players and even seemed to stray from our own pressing needs. I think a C is a perfect grade for now, until we see these guys actually play.
Honestly it sounds like your being a hater cause they didn't pick your guys. Again, they hit every need except NT. They got guys they wanted, "Gold Star 49ers". Would like to compare this draft to the Alex SMith draft and over time see which one measures out better. But C'mon Gabbert has the look but not the touch man. He will be a bust.
As for Smith, he is a good straight ahead rush backer. At the same time, he is not an elite athlete, which is what you want from a guy this high on the board.

How did Manny do during the combine?
we missed gabbert??? do u really think this? i dont...i do think that harbaugh didnt want him.

as for aldon:
so, we didnt want gabbert and prince and quinn hasnt any experience in two-point stance...additionally, no one wanted to trade up. what should we do? waiting til the time is up?
Originally posted by communist:
we missed gabbert??? do u really think this? i dont...i do think that harbaugh didnt want him.

as for aldon:
so, we didnt want gabbert and prince and quinn hasnt any experience in two-point stance...additionally, no one wanted to trade up. what should we do? waiting til the time is up?

i think we liked prince however i remember when we hired vic he continously said he wanted pass rushers
Originally posted by AmpLee:
That's what happens when you pin yourself to your own prognostications. You inevitably get different results than the experts who actually made the picks and had the resources to study the players. I look forward to bumping this thread in two years with a big giant black crow, but you'll probably just revise history as usual.

I will the first to admit when I am wrong, but thanks for your kind words.

Please go ahead and bump my thoughts on the 2008 Niners' draft, where I thoroughly thrashed the team for the Balmer-Rachal-Smith-Wallace combo. You can bump that puppy all you want.

The "experts" were pretty hot that year.

You can also bump my criticism that Mays was the worst selection in 2010.
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I agree with you (first time ever) with the grades. exept for Aldon I'd give a B-. A lot of sheep around here will be up in arms though.

I just love how In years past we get the "name" players at a later round then expected and its all "we got a steal here, we nailed the draft, look at the grades we got here and here".

But the second that its the other way around it's "well I trust the coach, or you guys didn't put in the work the FO did."

This is how the day after grades work, perceived value. They mean nothing. But people around here can't even admit that we should get a bad "day after grade". That doesn't mean it will be a bad draft.

The good thing about reaching at nearly every pick is that at least we now they probably got most of the guys they wanted.
Thanks for the writeup MadDog and thanks for chatting it up with us. Grades might seem some what harsh but I think they took guys with potential and great guys off the field that they think will fit their scheme. Just not full of big name guys and great value. Time will tell but hopefully the coaching staff will get the most out of these guys. Like I mentioned in other posts nobody is going to care if we reached for guys like Culliver or even Kilgore if they become solid players. If it makes people feel better pretend we took Culliver in the 4th and Hunter in the 3rd.

P.S. Hope we keep Miller at DE/OLB but they did say they aren't ruling out that he could play that. Just said he would have to earn it.

[ Edited by Gore_21 on May 1, 2011 at 19:42:43 ]